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The last few weeks as everyone in my family took turns being sick and Joel got diagnosed with Bell’s palsy (amongst other things that were going on in our family) I was beginning to feel a little overwhelmed. You know those moments when you tell God you aren’t sure how much more you can handle and if anything else goes wrong you might just crawl into a hole and cry. That was me. When the boys were sick we went on several long walks to get some fresh air and to help keep my sanity. On several of those walks we found ourselves at Cora’s stone. The boys love walking there and it was a good reality check for me. Some fresh air and a reminder to keep an eternal perspective. My babies were sick, but it would pass and they are healthy boys. It seemed like Griffin cried for three days straight, but I had the privilege of holding him and comforting him and watching Bob the Builder and Thomas the Train 500 times with him. Joel being diagnosed with Bell’s palsy was scary and has definitely been a trial for him, but he’s here and it doesn’t change who he is even if his face looks a little funny…and it’s temporary. We have seen some small improvements which we are so grateful for. The crazy thing is the boys haven’t even seemed to notice…even the first week when it was so bad and very obvious. I can learn a lot from them. The past four weeks have been a reminder of a lesson God began teaching us after Cora died. One that I still often forget when life starts getting hard. We don’t want to allow our circumstances to define us, we want Christ to define us.

In the midst of all this that was going on I read this one morning…

God…made us alive together with Christ…and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-6, ESV

There was a time when your separation from me because of your sin made you what you were. But I have united you to Jesus Christ so that you have been transformed from what you were to what he is. Now everything that belongs to Christ belongs to you.

Why does this matter? Because these realities change everything about your life. No matter what you’ve been through and who you’ve been, there are now three events that define who you are. When you trusted in Christ, you died with Christ, you were raised from the dead with Christ, and you ascended with Christ and are seated with him in the heavenly places. His story has become the story of your life. His blessings have become your blessings. I have relocated your worth and destiny in Christ. Whatever else may happen to you, nothing can alter this deep connectedness. (Nancy Guthrie, Abundant Life)

I think it is so easy for me to get caught up in my personal circumstances and allow those circumstances…good or bad…to define my story. But because I belong to Christ, His story has become my story. His story has become my story. I love that. My circumstances don’t define me. And the fact that I am connected to Christ allows me to experience joy in the midst of heartache, peace in the midst of chaos, rest in the midst of exhaustion and so much more.

We all have hard things in our lives. I’m sure some of you are going through some really hard things right now. And if you are like me you might be tempted to allow those things to define you and your story. But we have a sure hope and an anchor to hold onto. Because of what Christ has done for us and the destiny we have in Him we have a new story. He has redefined us. And that changes everything.

  • babykatesmom - what a wonderful reminder for us all. thank you. i love the silly faces.ReplyCancel

  • Briony - My brother had bells palsy about two weeks ago. It has cleared up now and went away fairly quickly! We decided not to put him on steroids so we looked into alternative treatment. Basically, he had to do specific facial exercises three times daily in front of a mirror. It worked really well and there is no permanent damage at all! Hope Joel gets well soon. πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Lisa - My husband had Bell’s Palsy several years ago and it was really scary. It cleared up completely within a couple of weeks though. Sometimes it is hard being a Mom. It can feel overwhelming. In those moments it’s hard to stop and count your blessings, but it sure helps!ReplyCancel

  • Kristin - You are very much an inspiration. My favorite line in your post…”…the fact that I am connected to Christ allows me to experience joy in the midst of heartahce, peace in the midst of chaos, rest in the midst of exhaustion…” Very moving.ReplyCancel

  • Julie - Thank you! Thank you! Thank you for sharing!ReplyCancel

  • Trish - life is hard. your testimony is one that i will always remember! thank you for taking the time to write it down and above all else share it with the world! i am very thankful for that! it is hard when our husbands don’t feel 100%. my guy suffers from extreme vertigo and it can come on at any time. so we are careful to do anything crazy in case we are stuck somewhere when it happens. can’t wait til heaven! xoxoReplyCancel

  • Lacie Hutchins - It has been a long hard week. I lost the my second good friend and mentor in less than a year this week suddenly to cancer. She was taken before she could feel pain, but she was taken so suddenly it has been very difficult for my colleagues and I. It also leaves a degree of uncertainty in my teaching position. All of this is to say, this post hits close to home for me and I thank you so much for sharing it!ReplyCancel

  • Carla R. - Jessica,

    I found your post on my friend’s FB wall. I saw your pictures and said that’s Joel & Jessica from Christian Challenge! What a small world!!! Your story is a great one. Sorry to hear about Joel, but I love the one reason we are able to give praise in situations like these. He’s the only reason we are able to look forward to something better.ReplyCancel

  • Elizabeth - What awesome reflections. My twins and I have been sick on and off for the last 3 weeks, one thing right after another. It’s so hard. It’s so hard when all they want is to be held, or they cry because they aren’t really sure what they want. This was an encouraging post to read today. πŸ™‚ReplyCancel

  • Cari Chastain - Jess. It’s so easy to get weighted gown by circumstances. I have struggled with my attitude lately as Andy has been feeling so poorly.
    I know a big lesson you learned after Cora died was to define yourself by Christ and not your circumstances. I remember the first time I heard that. After losing Caden, I needed to remind myself of that… And I still do. So thankful for a gracious and merciful Father who forgives my forgetfulness and backsliding. Good post!ReplyCancel

  • Debby Graber - Jess, our son, Josh also had that! It’s been a couple of years ago I think. This morning I read about Christ’s compassion. The word compassion comes from 2 Latin words meaning “to suffer with”. What a thought that He suffers with us. What loving compassion He has for us! Then I also read 1 Kings 19 where Elijah gets so discouraged. And you know what? God is with him the whole time. He comes alongside him to encourage him. Love that! We’ll be praying for you all!!ReplyCancel

  • Kimberly - Life is hard! Thank you so much for the reminders about keeping an eternal perspective. I appreciate you so much, Jess! Praying for you and your family, too.ReplyCancel

  • Beki - TheRustedChain - Jess, I had Bell’s a few years ago.
    It’s freaky and scary and annoying and showed me just how vain I actually am…

    Hoping his clears up completely!ReplyCancel

  • chrissi - Thanks for this wonderful post. Your words are just what I needed to hear today β™₯ReplyCancel

  • ranee - i needed this post this week!ReplyCancel

  • My Story | Small Town Nebraska - […] have been catching myself thinking about how I want others to think about me lately, and Jess’s post about being defined by Christ was just what I needed to read. Follow that link and read it for […]ReplyCancel

  • creole wisdom - Talk about having victory in Christ, Jess! Your beautiful perspective is so inspiring. Life on this earth is so messy and filled with trials. This post made me think of when Jesus said, “in this world you will have many trials, but I have overcome the world.” Amen! Hang in there, I’m so glad that Joel is recovering and you’re all feeling a little healthier at the Mac household.ReplyCancel

  • Mary Ann - Thanks for sharing….it is so easy to get up in “the thick of thin things.” In other words to get caught up in the day to day things of life and get discouraged when things don’t go perfectly. But you always find a way to put things back into perspective and you invite Christ into your life knowing He can provide strength and wisdom when you need it the most. He truly can become our anchor, our Light, our hope, and our strength when we are left without strength of our own. I’m glad Joel is making progess with the Bell’s Palsy and hope he is completely healed and good as new very soon. Your pictures are priceless!! You have a beautiful family.ReplyCancel

  • Cutella - This is very inspiring!ReplyCancel